Each June, Keep Liberty Beautiful does a required annual litter scan throughout Liberty County. Since 2006, we have had a steady overall annual decline in the scans we do.
We feel sure that the primary reason is because there are many good neighbors across our county who work hard to keep this community of ours clean and green — like our Good Neighbor logo affirms. We also know that other factors contribute to this improvement: good partnerships with county and municipal departments who work daily to police litter cleanups, city and neighborhood volunteer cleanups throughout the year, Adopt Liberty cleanups on a quarterly basis and, certainly, continuous community education.
This is how the litter-scan process works: We annually scan the same 18 locations. We are required to scan five, but we feel we are able to get a better handle on litter problems and improvements by doing this many sites. Several volunteers slowly drive through each area and rate the amount of litter they see on a scale from 1 to 4. A 1 rating means the area has little or no litter — just a few pieces that easily could be picked up in 30 minutes or less. A 4 rating means we have a heavily littered area that requires significant cleanup.
When humans are involved in the rating, there always is a little subjectivity involved, but our seasoned board members and volunteers have a good eye for this litter stuff. So almost always, we are in agreement on the ratings.
My husband thinks I have some psychic connection to litter, in that I can almost tell you the number of pieces of litter in a given area just by scanning it. No kidding! We have had contests several times while driving down Islands Highway. Obviously, I have an extremely exciting life.
As we prepare this week for scans, we want to thank the many Good Neighbors out there who make our job a little easier each year. We know that caring local citizens are helping to police their neighborhoods, streets and cities. We call these people Good Neighbors because they are making a difference for all of their neighbors throughout our community.
On the other hand, we haven’t come up with a name for the folks who continue to litter or let it blow out of their vehicles by using their truck bed or hauled boats as open trash cans — at least not a name that we can use in public.
Here’s how to be a Good Neighbor:
• Take a look at your property and try to see it through the eyes of others who live around you. Is it clean and maintained? Are equipment and toys stored appropriately and not scattered around the yard? Are your house and other structures in good repair? Is the right-of-way along your street litter-free? And please tell me that there are no junk cars and other debris marring the appearance of your property and, ultimately, your neighborhood?
• You never toss litter on the ground, not even cigarette butts, because you have the good sense to know that the ground is not a trash can or an ashtray. You also secure all items in your car, truck and boat so that garbage and other items do not become flying objects as you drive down the road or as you are boating. You also do not use your truck bed as a large trash can that you never have to empty because the trash blows out as you drive down the road.
• Do you pick up litter when you see it? If we all did, what a clean, beautiful community we would have every day!
• Do any of your neighbors have health issues or maybe are down on their luck? Perhaps they could use a neighborly hand in sprucing up their property (with their permission, of course). Take a look around. Do you have elderly or indigent neighbors who might appreciate a neighbor’s assistance? I hope when I get to that point, I will have neighbors who care. I am sure you do, too.
• The first step might be to offer a smile and a friendly hello to people around you. Get to know your neighbors and show respect for their property by keeping yours in good shape. Be the kind of neighbor whom you would enjoy having.
A community is really more than just a group of people who live in the same vicinity. Reach out and be a good neighbor. You might realize how many good neighbors you have around you.
Upcoming KLB events
Nomination forms for the quarterly Win-dex Awards for attractive businesses are available at the KLB office, 101 N. Commerce St., or at the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce office, 425 W. Oglethorpe Highway. For more information, call 880-4888 or 368-4445 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations will be accepted through June 30. Awards will be announced in mid-July at the next Progress Through People luncheon.